Monday, May 16, 2016


We chose a name years ago. I’ve said this before, it’s the transliterated version of one of our student’s name from our time teaching in Tonga. A sweet but wild boys’ boy that I really adored.

When we heard your name and said it aloud, there was no doubt in either of us that that would be your name.
After we became pregnant we started to look more into your name- study deeper the year of Jubilee in the bible.
We knew your name would be our prayer for you and this name is such a mighty prayer. Our dear Jubilee, a loud “ram’s horn” declaring the restoration to be found in Jesus.

And when Mark and I talked about this powerful name, we always spoke of the restoration we hope takes place in your life, and the restoration we pray God uses you to bring about in other’s lives.

Overwhelmed. Dazed. Proud. Confused. Exhausted. Joyful.
I felt all of these emotions when she entered the world.
I think I thought as soon as she arrived I would have this “A-HA” moment. A sudden realization felt deep down in my bones that she’s mine and I’m a mama and all the wisdom of the centuries that comes with that.
But mostly I felt like it was this strange out of body experience (and a little bit of awe, and a whole lot of exhaustion).

On day two I finally had a minute alone with my daughter. I was up and about and scooped her in my arms and sat in a chair. She cried and I fed her. And I then, for the first time, truly bonded with her. My little girl, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood. I wept with the joy of such a perfect blessing from a God that must be good.

We brought her home-this is a crazy time. Full of overwhelming emotions and questions and fears and hopes. We had had a hard night so we put on some music and I held her while she slept. And ever so slowly it dawned on me that the first restoration Jubilee has brought is my own. God has given her to me at such a time, and she has truly restored my soul.
I wish I could capture in words the pain in my own heart the last year or so. It has been a deep deep well of swelling sorrows. I have questioned, often, this God I claim to serve. I have wondered if he is all powerful, and even more, if he is really good. It has been a season of tears and accusations and a crying out for justice. I have silently prayed for God’s hand to move, then bitterly questioned when I have not seen it. My mind has held to the things I believe, but my heart has not.

But holding this tiny daughter of mine has given me a glimpse of my Father. I cannot help but cry out in praise (and constant prayer!). I cannot help but weep and acknowledge that He knew years ago when “we” picked this name, that it would be me that needed so much restoration. When I have so often wondered about the timing of this baby, and worried about whether or not to work, etc, God knew my heart.

I am sure I will continue to process and struggle through understanding the realities of the pain in this world. And I am sure there will be some hard times ahead as we all three continue to wade into the painful and beautiful process of bringing His Kingdom to this world… but in Faith, and Hope, and a tenderness to my heart that has been gone for such a long time, I am able to praise what must truly be a good God.

Thank you Jesus, for using my little Jubilee to begin to restore my soul. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"To Jubilee Way"

Forgive us for this broken world
That we have passed along to you.
Our damaged hearts and homes reflect
A tragic mess we can’t undo.
At times, our hope is dashed beneath
The wreckage wrought by hate and fear,
And pride and greed are placed ahead
Of all that we should hold most dear.
But there is comfort, our dear child,
For healing can be found in he
Who delves into this broken mess
To blast the sounds of Jubilee.
Forgiveness is his serenade
That lifts us out of needless strife,
And freedom is proclaimed to those
Whose chains have choked away their life.
We pray that you would hear this tune
Because his healing work begins
When we trace back this world’s deep cracks
To their true source, which lies within.
And then, with all who came before
Who follow in his lowly Way,
We pray that you would join the work
That ushers in redemption day.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Jubilee's Birth Story: Dad's Perspective

I got the email Tuesday at 8:23am, right at the end of 1st Period.

According to my contraction app I'm averaging one every ten minutes since you left for work.... Don't tell anyone or freak out cause I don't know if it will continue to increase, but fyi..  =)

“Don’t freak out.”  Like that was ever going to happen.

I did manage to teach the rest of my classes for the day, wholly distracted, incessantly checking my phone, and calling every chance I got.  When the bell rang at 2:25, I got on my bike and booked it home.

Alissa was a picture of peace and calm when I arrived.  She had done a few loads of laundry and had even graded some quizzes for me.  I was neither peaceful nor calm when I frantically burst in the door, but she assured me that there was no cause for panic.  Her contractions were still spaced far enough apart, and the pain wasn’t too intense.  We ate an early dinner, and she, in typical Alissa fashion, decided to bake some cookies.  But since she had been having contractions for most of the day, we called the hospital around 6:00, and they advised that we make the trip in.

We quickly got our things together, called a taxi, and headed to the hospital.  We left around 7:00, and traffic was still pretty bad.  But, things still didn’t seem all that urgent.  When we arrived after a 45 minute stop-and-go ride, we checked in at the birthing unit, and the nurses checked her dilation and contractions.  To Alissa’s dismay, she was told that she was not dilated even a centimeter, and that most of what she was experiencing probably weren’t even contractions.  The nurses scoffed and sent us home, saying that maybe labor would really kick in in the next day or two.

Frustrated, we got in a taxi to start the journey home.  All the while, Alissa still felt contractions coming on, seemingly stronger than the ones before, and she wondered aloud whether we should just stay in a hotel near the hospital.  But with the nurses knowing chides in our heads, we slumped back home.  Boy, do we wish that we would have trusted Alissa’s gut.  No pun intended.

We got home at 9:30, and Alissa went straight to bed.  Her hope was to try to sleep through some of the contractions and store up her strength.  Without much sense of urgency, I slowly got ready for bed, and got out my computer.  Then, all hell broke loose.

At about 10:30, Alissa shot up out of bed and instinctively ran to the toilet.  While she was scuttling on her way, she yelled out at me to clean something up.  Then, in an ignorant daze, I realize what had happened.  Her water had broken.  I immediately went to the bathroom and reached for some toilet paper.  Understandably annoyed, Alissa yelled, “What are you doing?? Get a towel!”  With my panic level elevating by the second, I grabbed a towel and looked to survey what had really happened.  Without being too graphic, let’s just say that quite a lot of liquid needed to be cleaned up - all over the bed and on the floor all the way to the bathroom.

The next five minutes were among the most stressful of my life.  Alissa was on the toilet and started getting the shakes.  Her contractions immediately began ramping up in intensity.  Totally unable to decide what to prioritize, I began cleaning the floor, ripping the sheets off the bed, ordering another taxi on my phone, making sure we still had everything packed, and calling our doctor to say we were coming back to the hospital.  When the taxi arrived in front of our house, I grabbed our bags, and Alissa grabbed a towel.  We threw the bags in the taxi, Alissa eased her way strategically on top of the towel, and I told our mind-mannered taxi driver in broken Thai: “Samitivej hospital. Baby coming now. Go fast.”

Alissa’s pain continued to elevate, and within a minute into the journey, she exclaimed that she wasn’t sure if she could make it to the hospital.  All I could do was panic and pray, and I managed to send a quick text to our family: “Water broke and we’re heading back now.  Pray we make it please.”  Then, in a scene fit for a movie, Alissa screamed out in periodic pain and I prayed unceasing terrified prayers as we careened through Bangkok’s crowded streets, both of us envisioning the horror of delivering a baby in the backseat of a taxi.  We thanked the Lord when we made it there at 11:15 after a record-breaking 25 minute taxi ride.

Needless to say, we arrived in a manner very different from our calm and unsure visit earlier that evening.  With Alissa in a wheelchair, we burst into the same birthing unit, and were met with startled looks from the same nurses we saw only two hours before.  Alissa got changed, and we quickly got things situated in the labor room.  When the nurse checked Alissa’s dilation once more, the nurse looked up wide-eyed and startledly exclaimed, “Unbelievable!”  She was 5 cm dilated.

For about 30 minutes, Alissa stayed on her feet and changed positions as she closed her eyes and quietly endured the increasingly painful contractions.  I did my best to help, encourage, and send a few scattered texts updating family.  She felt a lot of pain in her back, so the nurses eventually offered her the birthing tub to ease some of the pain.  This did the trick at first, but after awhile, she began to overheat in the hot water.  Then, already wearied and spent, she moved to the low-lying bed.  I applied a cold washcloth to her face and encouraged her to drink water, and an absolute champion of a nurse massaged her lower back.  Her dilation was soon checked once more, and we were pleased to hear that she had jumped to 7 cm.

Then, Alissa hit a wall. While laboring on the bed, she entered the worst of it - the “transition” stage of labor, which is said to be the most painful.  From my perspective, the only thing I can compare it to is an athlete utterly spent at the end of a marathon.  Her energy seemed completely drained, and the contractions were super intense.  She hit 8 cm, but struggled to move beyond this point.  For about two hours, she alternated lying on either side, with her eyes closed, in a meditative, near comatose state.  After awhile, she felt the urge to push, but the doctor encouraged her to fight the urge because she was not fully dilated.  Up until now, Alissa seemed confident in her strength, but she began to doubt herself, pleading with me that she wasn’t sure if she could do it.

Finally around 4:00am, after what seemed like an eternity of waiting, our doctor gave her the green light.  We helped her onto her back, and with a remarkably renewed sense of energy, Alissa began to push.  After the first push, the doctors and nurses seemed pleasantly surprised at what they saw, and they began to prep the room for the birth.  Then, after a few rounds of contractions and pushing, we got into a rhythm.  I counted 10 second intervals aloud during each contraction as our doctor, the two nurses, and I implored her to push hard.  After a mere 7 or 8 rounds, the head was visible, and from there, it happened in a veritable instant.  One push.  The head.  Another push.  The shoulders.  A final push. She was out.  A few seconds later, a whimpered crying filled the room.  Jubilee Way had entered the world.